The water speaks as it falls
drip drip drip
off wet teeth, sharp and brown
if there were light,
onto bones caught by time
fresh and withered; the water eats them all
The water speaks as it falls
drip drip drip
off wet teeth, sharp and brown
if there were light,
onto bones caught by time
fresh and withered; the water eats them all
I’m writing this to work out my thoughts and feelings regarding an uncomfortable situation. I’m not looking for comments here, although if anyone would like to text me or speak in person, I’m happy to do that. One of the difficult things about this situation, which I’ll explain the details of in a moment, is that much of the discussion is happening in online forums. That, in my opinion, is the worst place for the kind of discussion required to work through uncomfortable situations. The ideal solution for this situation would be a series of ongoing, sensitive, face to face discussions. But if these have been happening, I have not been privy to them. So I’m working things through on my own here.
I have been acting in plays at the Utah Children’s Theatre for some years now. Recently, the theatre management decided to cast an actor who has been previously convicted of sexual offenses with minors and had his name on a sex offender registry. I do not know the specifics of the current legal situation. From what I understand, the offenses occurred at least twenty years ago, there have been no further convictions, and possibly (this is where my knowledge is really at its limit) the man has since been able to have his name removed from the sex offender registry and have his legal record cleared/sealed/expunged/etc. These reasons, as far as I’m aware, allowed the theatre management to feel comfortable in their decision to cast this actor. I’m working through a multitude of thoughts and emotions right now, but one thing I can say with some measure of certainty is that they made the wrong decision.
I want to add a caveat here. I don’t know who will read this, but I believe it’s safe to assume at least a few people who have worked or attended shows at the Utah Children’s Theatre will. I want to make it clear at this point that I’m not throwing any blanket judgements on any person. The judgement here is about the decision of a business to hire a specific employee, not on the morality of any persons involved in that decision. I also reserve the right to change my mind at any point. The point of my writing this is to work through my thoughts and feelings wherever they take me. I’d also like to say here that I’m not in any way excusing poor decision making or bad behavior. I fully support those who feel hurt and betrayed by this and other decisions. My hope, not with this post but with the entire mess, is that this will be a conversation and learning opportunity from which we all emerge better people, not a war in which two sides are attacked and bloodied until one emerges a victor. Then again, I feel I’m less the chessmaster here and more the dog from Monopoly who found myself on the board. That is to say, I don’t feel entirely inconsequential, but I won’t be controlling at all how this plays out.
So, the theatre hired this man. Later, this decision along with the man’s past behavior came to light on social media. I feel guilty for judging this, and honestly I don’t really know what better avenue would have been available, but I can’t help but feel this was the wrong venue. What followed the post outing the theatre’s decision was truly awful. The comments that came were full of hurt, anger, attack, defense, vitriol, blame, and more. These comments came from people I like. From people I hold in high regard. I want to believe this happened because social media, for all its efforts to bring people together, tends to hide the humanity of the people on the other side of the comments. I want to believe the people who wrote awful things aren’t actually terrible people. I want to believe they felt attacked and responded in kind out of a sense of defense and self-preservation without realizing the post was made by a human. I know that doesn’t sound like much comfort, but what I mean to say is that I want to believe if this conversation had happened face to face there would have been more emphasis on compassion and understanding rather than defense and justification. I hope that conversation can still take place. These are my hopes for the future, but they don’t help much with where I find myself at this moment.
I’m doing my best to avoid specifics while writing this. It seems cowardly, but I’ll justify it by saying that I really don’t know the specifics. I’ve watched this unfold from the sidelines of the discussion, and for me to state anything as fact which I don’t know would only exacerbate the problem. Also, these things that I’m saying, the sequence of events I’m laying out, are in no way comprehensive. I’m really just trying to hit the big events and not mischaracterize them too much. So, after a series of Facebook posts and comments, a meeting was held with theatre management, the cast of the play in which the actor was cast (Which isn’t the play I’m in, I should mention. I wasn’t present at this meeting.), and parties who felt hurt and aggrieved by the decisions of the theatre. At that meeting, the following or a similar list of demands was presented to the theatre management.
For the record, I agree with all of these points. The one area where I might push back is on the statement that the theatre should notify parents and castmates of the prior actions of the actor. The reason I might push back on this is because I don’t know the specifics of the legal situation regarding this man’s criminal record. If his name has been removed from a sex offender registry and his criminal record has been expunged, then an argument could be made that it isn’t legally or ethically correct to reveal this man’s past crimes. That said, I want to restate my earlier position that the decision to hire this man was wrong. I don’t want to go into my reasoning for taking that position here, but I will also reiterate that if anyone would like to discuss this in a more personal setting, I am happy to do it. Instead of dissecting what makes this decision a bad one, I want to move on to what to me is a more serious issue.
Many of my dear friends are hurt right now. They feel betrayed, confused, devalued. They question whether this was one bad decision or a symptom of a larger issue at the theatre. A few have decided that they won’t continue to work with the Utah Children’s Theatre. Some have decided they will continue to participate. I’m sure all have thoughts and opinions on what everyone else should do as well. I find myself in the uncomfortable position of not knowing the right thing to do. To some, the issue is simple. You’re either on the side of the victims or the perpetrators.
One more caveat, please don’t assume anything I’m saying applies to you specifically. These are my feelings. They are not meant to represent hard, cold facts or specific things people have said to me. These are my feelings about a big, messy, complicated situation which all people involved have to work through and make their own decisions about. This is me working through it and trying to come to some kind of decision.
So, victims or perpetrators? But who is who? It’s almost a truism that all people believe themselves to be right. I think we can safely assume that the theatre management did not believe they were endangering their cast or employees when they made their casting decision. Likewise, the people calling for change at the theatre don’t see themselves as busybodies imposing their will on others through coercion or manipulation. The problem with breaking a situation like this into black and white is that the offense isn’t so cut and dry in the minds of everyone involved. This isn’t to suggest there aren’t rights or wrongs involved. But also remember, we’re not discussing the morality of the sexual offense from two decades ago. We all know and agree that that was wrong. The man went to jail. There is no question as to the immorality of his offense.
The questions now are about the theatre. And the major question is not even about whether they were right to hire the actor. At least, for me it’s not. Like I said before, I’m not interested in dissecting that decision here. The big question for me is if the Utah Children’s Theatre is an institution worth supporting and one that I can comfortably attach my name to. To answer that, I have to ask myself, was the choice to hire this man just one poor decision or is it indicative of larger problems within the organization? I’m feeling right now, based on conversations with people close to me and my own experiences, that it’s the latter. And if that’s the case, then it leads to another question entirely. Are the problems within the theatre insurmountable? And do the people at the theatre want to solve them?
Beyond those questions, I wonder how I do the most good. If I’m just a metal dog in the middle of a chessboard, how do I affect the game at all? At this point, the safest thing for me to assume is that nothing is going to change within the Utah Children’s Theatre organization. I don’t mean to suggest that as a foregone conclusion or even the most likely thing. For my own decision making though, it seems best to me to assume that everything will stay the same and ask myself what I should do if that’s the case. One argument is that by walking away it makes a statement that I won’t support bad behavior. The other side of that coin is the assumption that if I do stay, I’m proclaiming my support for said behavior. Then there’s the argument that while walking away makes a nice statement, it’s also leaving people I know and care about in a bad situation whereas if I stay, perhaps I can offer some buffer or protection from any bad behavior I happen to witness. Remember, what we all want here is a safe place for children. Is it justifiable for me to abandon any person I care about to face a potentially harmful situation alone? Of course, this is all assuming that I’m not part of the problem myself. And again this is all based on the larger assumption that problems at the theatre are systemic and/or deliberate.
Since my thoughts are here now, I will take this moment to say, I don’t believe the problems are deliberate. That is to say, I don’t think the management at the theatre is trying to create an atmosphere where girls and women feel undervalued and unsafe. I think it far more likely that those are issues systemic to our entire society and as such have wormed their way into most if not all of our institutions. The tragedy here, what I think is causing so much pain, is that we all hoped the Utah Children’s Theatre was better. We want it to be better. It should be better. But it’s still an institution run by people in our messed up society that values a man’s opinion as worth more than a woman’s and is generally more concerned with a man’s reputation than a woman’s safety and/or emotional wellbeing. Again, if you want to dispute that point of view, I am open to conversations, but I am not taking comments here.
I suppose at the current state of my muddling through all these thoughts and emotions, I find myself able to make one definitive statement, and I’ll end on that:
I want the Utah Children’s Theatre to be the place we all hoped it would and see that it can be. I want it to be better. Not because it’s a bad place. Because it can be an amazing place. It can be a place we’re all proud to belong. If the people in power want that too, then I’m here to stay. If not, then I’ll have a whole other set of questions to ask myself.
It’s been two days since Donald Trump became the President Elect of the United States of America. Today, a friend of mine was assaulted and harassed because of the color of his skin. But of course, these two events probably aren’t linked. I mean, racist assholes have been a part of this country from the beginning. How do we know this dickbag has anything to do with Trump? Well dear reader, I know because the piece of human refuse who assaulted my friend did so while waving a Trump sign and shouting his support for Trump.
Donald Trump’s bigoted, vile garbage that has spewed from his mouth has been thoroughly documented, but for the sake of argument here is a direct quote from the very first speech he made on his campaign last year:
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
This is not a post about politics. Trump won, and we all need to accept that and move on. I do want to address those Trump voters I personally know though. I don’t want to tell you why you were wrong to vote for Trump. You had your reasons, I’ve no doubt, and you are good, intelligent people. I can safely assume then that your reasons were good, intelligent reasons. I want to talk to you right now about your responsibilities moving forward. Regardless of your reasons for voting for Trump though, by voting for him you supported this kind of speech. And this kind of speech has now, two days after the election, been translated as permission to abuse our fellow human beings and American citizens. You didn’t vote for this. I’m certain of that. You did, however, give credence to it in the minds of the scum who supported Trump precisely because he called Mexicans rapists.
I don’t blame you. I want to make that clear. The person responsible for being a racist dickbag, is the person who is a racist dickbag. No, I don’t even mean Trump here. The person responsible for assaulting my friend is the person who committed the assault. HOWEVER, if you voted for Trump, you empowered this person. That was not your intention, I’m sure, but it happened nevertheless. The racist fuckwad who assaulted my friend feels like your vote was an endorsement of his fuckwaditude. So here is where we are, and this is what I really want to say to you.
You did not assault my friend. I do not blame you for what happened. But you are in a small way responsible. And you know what, I am too. I didn’t speak up and stand up and rally and donate money and do my part when David Duke, a prominent leader in the Ku Klux Klan, endorsed Donald Trump for president. I didn’t tell you before Novemeber 8th why I did not support Donald Trump. I kept my peace, as best I could, because I’ve done the political posts before, and I know it stirs up anger and contention. I didn’t want that this year. Not with the good, intelligent people I love. I’m sorry. I allowed the degenerate, vicious, scum-sucking, lowlife, asshat, fuckwit who assaulted my friend to feel like that was okay. Because I didn’t say anything. If you voted for Trump, or if you didn’t speak out explicitly against this kind of white nationalism before, you are responsible with me. And now, it’s our job to speak out and to let assholes know this is not okay. America is great and can be greater, and it is because of people like my friend who get shit on and discriminated against and abused every day and still work to make America great. We at least owe him our outrage.
I started this blog a little over two years ago now. My intentions in its regard have shifted more than once since then. It’s been a place for me to share work in progress, thoughts on writing, and thoughts on life/politics/depression/etc. It’s been a good thing, I think. The last few months I’ve let it slide. It’s been an interesting time of life for me. I’ve posted before about that. It has prompted a good deal of introspection in me. I haven’t varied in what I want in life. I still have the same grand desire to write as I did two years ago when I started this. Circumstances have changed though, and that has prompted new directions and methods for me to accomplish those goals. It has also introduced new goals in other areas of my life. I’ve explored different career avenues, always with the thought that my new path would be something to make my life better while I continue to work on writing.
I’ve grown up a bit. I went to the dentist for the first time in 3 years. I can now do office talk and know about company family days (though I must admit I still don’t really understand either). Most people I know are concerned now with things like health insurance, sick days, buying property, and bed times. I understand these things now, at least I understand why people care about them. When I was younger these things were silly nonsense that distracted from important things like following your dreams and living in the moment. They’re not silly. I’m grown up enough now to say that and mean it. There’s a certain charm to a lifestyle of stability and 401ks and summer bbqs. Like I say, I’ve grown up.
There’s a problem though. Two years ago, right around the time I started this blog, my wife and I were talking about the future. I told her then that my greatest fear was complacency. I worried that I’d someday get a 9-5 job and we’d buy a car and I’d finally have health insurance and life wouldn’t be hard anymore. I worried that the lack of hardship would pacify me, and though I would still have the desire to write, it wouldn’t be my top priority. I’d be complacent to live a normal, average life, and I would never accomplish anything great. I still have that fear, but like I said, I’ve grown up.
It’s funny how often ‘grown up’ is synonymous with ‘given up.’ It’s not really. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding perpetuated by people who have given up and blame it on something as silly as aging. I’ve grown up a bit. I don’t resent my job even though it’s not exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I understand it now. I understand the social contract. And over the last few months of depression and introspection and laziness and hardship I’ve learned something about myself; I’m not ready to give up.
The only thing stopping me from writing is me choosing to use my time otherwise. A job is a necessary evil because it is necessary to live in a shelter and eat somewhat decent food and to see Ira Glass tell stories accompanied by two dancers. And you know, it’s not really that evil. It’s just work. It sometimes gets in the way of what we really want to do, but it’s not evil. In the end, it’s really just another excuse.
We all make excuses to not do the things we know will get us the things we want. We make them for good reasons. We need to work 40 hours a week to survive. We need downtime. Some movies and tv shows drop off Netflix after a certain time. We will get around to it when we’ve got enough money to afford us a little break. These are all excuses I’ve used in the past months, and they are all valid excuses in a given moment. They grow, though, from excuses to crutches, and before you know it you’re letting your blog die and not doing any work on the book you say you’re writing and getting too much of your sense of accomplishment from video game achievements. But I’ve grown up. It’s taken me 28 years, but I’ve come to a decision.
I want to be a writer, and it’s what I’m going to do. From now on, it’s going to be my priority. It’s going to be what I do. I’m going to start posting more regularly on here. I’m going to share my experiences with writing. I’m going to share updates on my writing progress. Sometimes I will still share things that have nothing to do with writing because those things are important too.
To start, I need to make some apologies and amends. I have two friends who released books in the last few months, and I should have helped promote them. Not because it’s my job or I owe them or anything. I should have done reviews and encouraged other people to buy their books because they are friends. And because they are writers and I know what it is to put your work out there and not get a response. So, it doesn’t make up for my lack of activity, but I am going to start my new/old blog with a couple reviews. If you want to get a jump on them without waiting for a review, I’ll add links below where you can get them.
Finally, while I hope everyone sees this blog and shares it and people the world over love it and publishers try to stalk me and shower me with lavish gifts to just please let them give me money to write a book, I realize that’s not very practical. The purpose of writing something like this is to share it, but in a way it’s more to share it with myself. I lost sight of that for a bit. I forgot how important it was to me to write these posts, even if no one reads them. So if it’s not your thing, that’s fine. It’s my thing, and it’s time I reminded myself.
I discovered the other day an assignment I had done for a poetry class. The assignment was to create a new Zodiac sign and write a horoscope for it. I present to you, Arugula.Characteristics of an Arugula:
Arugulas are healthy, earthy, and have a strong will to do what is right. They love the natural world and strive for harmony in their lives and actions. Arugulas love strongly and seek to better the lives of those around them, often with great success.
On the other hand, arugulas’ strong will often puts them at odds with others, and their desire to do the right thing can lead to a false sense of superiority. Arugulas are often tasteless to the point of boorishness, and though they naturally exert a strong influence on those around them, they can be heavy handed and overbearing. In addition, arugulas’ earthy nature may lend them a pleasant odor on first contact, but can quickly grow stale and moldy.
Storms darken the horizon and may easily overwhelm you. Remember, snow is a natural part of the Earth. However, just because your life is drenched and stormy, it does not excuse you from bathing. A sudden frost is about to ruin your love life. My advice: Try adding some croutons to your salad, preferably garlic. Newly single people can afford to have horrendous breath. Maybe go watch The Hobbit and root for Smaug this time.
Watch for shooting stars. If you see one, run. Run far far away and contemplate the nature of a vast universe that is constantly trying to destroy you. Pray, if it makes you feel better. Nothing can save you in the end.
The Holiday Season is almost upon us. I personally really like this time of year, from September all the way through the New Year. I like the creepy Halloween stuff, but I like the time after Halloween just as much, and I’m referring to more than just the traditional American Thanksgiving and Christmas stuff. These few weeks between Halloween and Turkey Fever get short shrift usually. At best they’re ignored. But I like it. I like the days getting shorter and the air getting colder. I like the hints of snow and promise of misery. Of course, by the second week of January the magic has worn off and it’s all dirty slush and inconvenient ice. For now though, it’s a time of constant change, and I like that.
For me, this time of year is a promise of things to come. My life is in that weird place after adolescence but before ‘real’ adulthood. (Of course, I’m developing a sneaking suspicion that ‘real’ adulthood never really arrives until you’re the oldest person alive and no one is around to tell you how young you still are.) I haven’t got a solid career yet, or children. I still have friends that like to go out at 11pm on Friday night. I still join them occasionally, though I usually regret it. I’m living the life of a full grown-up without all the resources. I don’t have to live on ramen noodles, but I still can’t afford health insurance. Basically, things are unsettled, much like the early November season that can’t decide if it’s Winter or Fall or how long either will last.
The promise, though, is there. The promise that soon all the trees will be lit with twinkling, artificial life and the snow will be soft and cold but not freezing as it falls. The promise that comfort is only a steaming mug away. It’s that promise I cling to. It’s honestly the best part of life. Anticipation is often greater than the reward, though I don’t think that diminishes the rewards. I’m still young enough that I can anticipate my life ahead. I can plan for better things, though I’ll have to slog through some blackened slush to get there. And when I do reach things like stability and regular dental visits, I’m sure it won’t be nearly as lovely as I have it in my head. Not that healthy teeth are a bad thing, but I’m sure I’ll still have unattained desires and worrisome trivialities and the kids will be sending the world to hell with their darned techno-folk music and silver jumpsuits and AI partners. Of course, that means I also get to have my anticipation of better things to come.
The lovely thing about this time of year is that it goes by so quickly. Soon it will be the Holiday Season for real with its Christmas Wars and Hobbitses and travel plans. Then we’ll have piles of dirty ice in all the parking lots and then the lovely green of Spring. Soon, the anticipation will be gone, but for a few brief days I get the thrill of imagining all the fun and joy laid out ahead of me. And I’m okay with that.
I won’t add many of my own words to this. I’ve not been very active about it. I tweet articles sometimes or retweet others’ thoughts. Basically, it has come down to this: For those aware of what’s been happening in gaming lately, supporting #Gamergate and not opposing it are both immoral acts. That is not to say they are equally immoral. It’s one thing to say ISIS has some good points and another to actually behead people, but they are both wrong. If you believe comparing #Gamergate to ISIS is hyperbole, you might be right but just barely because at this point #Gamergate is a terrorist organization. True, they haven’t actually murdered anyone yet, but the tactics of threatening and fearmongering are remarkably similar for a group of people claiming to be concerned with “ethics.” Anyway, I won’t say more about them myself. Below are links to articles more comprehensive and eloquent than anything I have to say. The purpose of this post is for me personally to take a stand. I want anyone who reads this, anyone who knows me to know, I am a gamer, and I oppose #Gamergate because it is wrong.
If you only read one of these, make sure it’s Felicia Day’s. She shows so clearly exactly the problem with the #Gamergate movement while expressing her usual, positive call to action attitude where so many others, myself included, can only speak negatively regarding this.
And finally, a report from ThinkProgress, which I admit isn’t the best source for objective news, but they’ve done a good job with the facts about the backlash against Felicia Day. Actress Felicia Day Opens Up About GamerGate Fears, Has Her Private Details Exposed Minutes Later